People exposed to high levels of persistent organochlorine pollutants (POPs), which are most likely to come from eating fatty fish such as salmon, might be at risk of developing diabetes.
A study published today in the open access journal Environmental Health reveals that exposure to high levels of POPs, a family of toxic chemicals that includes polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and the insecticide DDT, is associated with a high prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in a population of fishermen and their wives. POPs are by-products of industrial and agricultural processes and are widespread in the environment.
Lars Rylander and colleagues from the University of Lund, Sweden, studied the incidence of type 2 diabetes in196 fishermen and 184 fishermen’s wives, and analysed levels in their blood of the POP residue CB-153, and DDE, the main by-product of DDT. Levels of both residues reflect exposure to POPs.
The study’s results show that 6% of men and 5% of women who took part in the study have diabetes. Those that were found to have type 2 diabetes have significantly higher blood levels of both CB-153 and DDE than non-diabetics in the group of fisherman and fisherman’s wives, which suggests high exposure to POPs.
A statistical analysis of the results shows that exposure to CB-153 and DDE is significantly associated with a high prevalence of diabetes.